It’s true, it’s true, here in Piedmont we do not have the sea, and in summer, I admit, we would like to very much. However, the name “Pied-mont” derives from its position “at the foot of the mountains“, and with the recent summer heat, having the mountains at your doorstep is certainly an appreciable aspect. And if, as it happens to us Piedmontese, there are so many different mountains, so much so that you can choose at every opportunity to explore a new valley, the lack of the sea becomes negligible.
Today, for our trip outside the city, we choose to go and explore Saluzzo and the Po Valley, the valley that descends from Monviso and hosts the source of the Po river.
As the first stop on this itinerary, we head towards the ancient Staffarda Abbey, located right at the mouth of the Po Valley. We arrive early in the morning; the air is fresh and pleasant and there are no other visitors yet. We have the whole religious complex all to ourselves and this allows us to appreciate the peace and the silence of the cloisters and the internal garden.
Immersing yourself in a place through sensations is one of the most effective methods when you want to get closer to its ancient history and perceive its beauty, and that’s what happens to us this morning. Our senses lead us to the medieval period when the abbey (1135) was founded by the cloistered monks of the Cistercian order, on an uncultivated territory granted by the Marquis of Saluzzo. The complex develops, well-structured, around the beautiful cloister with double columns, which today has a lush lawn and decorative garden inside, but originally was a vegetable garden cultivated with medicinal plants.
Unfortunately, the rooms that hosted the capitulars (monks that observed the order) and the lay monks were not well preserved. In fact, after a period of splendour and wealth during the 12th and 13th centuries, decay set in, until 1690 when the abbey was sacked and devastated by the French army in one of their recurrent incursions and invasions that characterized the entire history of our region.
Very well preserved, instead, is the Romanesque-Gothic church, which has however undergone alterations and additions over the centuries. Its interior with three naves, is majestic and imposing, despite being, as the Cistercian rule wanted, very austere, with few decorations. The rendering of simple two-colour brickwork and cross vaults with small symbolic decorations in the centre is extremely elegant. It is unfortunate that the nineteenth-century restoration left an obvious stylistic clash on the interior wall of the apse that serves as the background for the main altar!
Now the Abbey is getting crowded with other tourists, but we have finished our tour and thus we are ready to visit the very interesting little town of Revello nearby.
The town immediately subdues us with its tranquillity. On the main square, we find some remains of the ancient Palazzo Marchionale, the summer residence of the Marquis of Saluzzo and his wife, built in the fifteenth century, and its only surviving tower that houses the Marchionale Chapel. Looking up towards the mountains, we see an ancient tower, the last remnant of the Fortress of Bramafam, a fortification from the 15th century.
We take a pleasant walk along Via Vittorio Emanuele III, and we see several remnants of the medieval period in the facades of the houses. At the end of the street, we arrive at the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria, also built in the fifteenth century.
The salient façade, in brick, very simple and austere is enriched by the beautiful marble portal in Renaissance style built in the sixteenth century. Entering we are struck by the size of the church, with its high vaulted ceiling and the wealth of artworks that decorate it. Certainly, Revello was a much more important centre in the past than it is today, having been the summer residence of the Marquis of Saluzzo.
It’s lunchtime and we rely on our sixth sense to find the perfect place. At the exit of the village, we find the Bramafam Restaurant (Ristorante del Bramafam) which has a beautiful courtyard, with a lawn and a central flowerbed: we like it! The place is sweet, very stylish and tastefully furnished, and we see that nothing is left to chance. The menu has traditional Piedmontese dishes, but not only: we ate and drank well, sitting outdoors and with a beautiful view of the mountains.
In the afternoon, an unmissable exploration in search of a giant bench. Also this time, we “climb” up a dirt road and reach Costigliole’s Big Bench. The calm is total, the view is very beautiful, and this bench is ideal for post-lunch relaxation.
After the small siesta, we head towards our last stop: Saluzzo, the capital of this district and the historic seat of the Marquisate since the 12th century, which had maintained its independence from the Savoy Duchy until 1601.
We begin our walk from a vantage point with an excellent view: The Castile. The fortress built in 1270 and later, up to the end of the 1400s, transformed by various interventions into the Castle of Saluzzo. In front of the fortress we pass the Drancia Fountain and before us opens a beautiful cobbled street that descends flanked by medieval buildings. We admire to the left the ancient Town Hall that today houses the Pinacoteca Matteo Olivero, built in the mid-1400s with its beautiful loggia on the ground floor and the terracotta decorations on the façade. Behind it, the imposing Civic Tower and on the same square the fourteenth-century Church of San Giovanni. The facade is very simple and beautiful with a large painting of St. Christopher (added in the 1900’s). From street level, you descend via a long staircase into the church. The interior is rich in artworks and frescoes, but the most interesting part is certainly the apse that constitutes the Marquesses Funerary Chapel, built in the Burgundian style, on a pentagonal plan covered with grey and green stones.
We go back to the car and arrive in the centre of Saluzzo to admire the fifteenth-century Duomo, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, with its majestic salient façade, in Gothic style with a central portal surmounted by a tall gable. But not only …. Now for a stroll along Corso Italia, the shopping street, to absorb the feeling of the city and listen to its heartbeat. A young city, elegant, lively, with nice shops, and a varied and abundant offer of bars and very popular establishments… We love it!
We liked Saluzzo and the Po Valley very much: an ideal destination for a trip out of town, but not only that. The wealth of history, the beauty of the landscapes and the pure nature will create the perfect getaway for those who are looking for authentic and exclusive experiences.
Address: Piazza Roma, 2, 12036 Staffarda CN
from 27/10 to 28/2: Tue – Sun – 9.00am – 12.30pm / 1.30pm – 5.00pm
from 1/3 to 31/3: Tue – Sat – 9.00am – 12.30pm / 1.30pm – 5.00pm; Sun – 9.00am – 12.30pm / 1.30pm – 6.00pm
from 1/4 to 26/10: Tue – Sun – 9.00am – 12.30pm / 1.30pm – 6.00pm
FULL – € 6,50
REDUCED – € 4,50
SCHOOL and over-65 – € 3,50
Address : Piazza Denina, 4, 12036 Revello CN
Guided visit: from 27/04 to 27/10: Sat 2.30pm – 5.30pm, Sun 11.30am – 1.30pm / 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Prices: FULL € 5,00 – REDUCED € 4,00
Collegiate Church of Santa Maria
Ristorante del Bramafam (Bramafam Restaurant)
Address: Via Saluzzo, 83, 12036 Revello CN
tel. +39 0175 257337
Tue – Sat: 11.00am – 12:00am,
Sun: 11.00am – 6.00pm,
Prices: €€ – €€€
Costigliole’s Big Bench
Castle of Saluzzo
Address: Piazza Castello, 12037 Saluzzo CN
Thu – Sat: 10.00am – 6.00pm,
Sun: 10.00am – 7.00pm
Old Town Hall and Civic Tower
Address: Salita al Castello, 26, 12037 Saluzzo CN
Sat: 10.00am – 1.00pm / 2.00pm – 6.00pm,
Sun: 10.00am – 1.00pm / 2.00pm – 7.00pm
Church of San Giovanni
Duomo of the Virgin Mary of the Assumption
Street for Shopping
Address: Corso Italia
Where to Sleep
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